Wednesday, July 30, 2014
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Giving mineral rights to First Nations could help mining development: think tank

Stockhouse Editorial

Canada could improve its attractiveness for mining investment by allowing private ownership of mineral rights, particularly if mineral rights were given to First Nations, according to a new study released Thursday by the Fraser Institute, a right wing policy think tank.

“Mining development in Canada is fraught with uncertainty related to First Nations land claims and requirements that miners consult with First Nations. The result is often endless rounds of negotiations with no end in sight,’’ said Kenneth Green, the Fraser Institute’s senior director of energy and natural resources.

“Providing First Nations with private ownership of mineral rights will create a framework grounded in property rights and common law that would bring clarity to negotiations between First Nations and miners over project development.’’

The study, called Divergent Mineral Rights Regimes, compares the mineral law and policies in Canada and the United States. Mineral rights in Canada belong to individual provinces (the Crown) but can be leased to miners, allowing them to develop the resource.

But miners must negotiate within this Crown-based ownership system, making development of mining opportunities in First Nations jurisdictions particularly challenging.

By comparison, in the United States, mineral rights are privately owned.

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